Mistep in suspect’s criminal past may have lead to killing of KCK deli owner and woman

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A 39-year-old man with a long and violent criminal history has been charged with murdering two people in a KCK deli.

FOX4 Problem Solvers is investigating whether a misstep in his criminal past may have contributed to the deaths of the two victims.

The tragic incident took place at Edwards Original Corner Deli. Two people allegedly killed by a man some say should have been behind bars.

David Edwards can barely be in the space where his brother 62-year-old Dennis Edwards was shot and stabbed to death July 10, inside the family owned deli in KCK.

“It is just hard and the people out there they cry just like me,” Edwards said. “They come up here and they cry. That is how well he was liked.”

Deli customer 42-year-old Lachelle Day was also killed, allegedly by a man she knew well.

“She was begging him and when she got on the floor she was like this, please don’t please don’t,” Edwards said. ”She was praying. She was scared to death of him.”

That man, police say is 39-year-old Jermelle Byers. A felon with a long rap sheet who Edwards believes should have been behind bars.

“That is where I don’t understand the justice system, I don’t understand the courts,” Edwards said.

In 2017, Byers was charged with two counts of aggravated assault for shooting at the mother of his children and her sister at the Chelsea Plaza Homes in KCK. One of those charges was dropped, sources say, because the witness was too scared to testify.

Byers missed the women but shot up the apartment complex. He was charged with that as well as being a felon with a gun.

At that time, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree issued a new release saying, “It needs to be known across this county that if you commit any crime, big or small, if we have the evidence we are coming after every last one of them. Because no person in my community should have to deal with being violated, because someone wants to be a criminal.”

If Byers had gone to trial and been found guilty of those crimes back in 2017, he could have been sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison where he would have been July 10 when Edwards and Day were killed.

Instead, the DA agreed to a plea deal, dropping all of the charges except attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, for which Byers was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

“I think there should be no plea deals,” Edwards said. “They should have took that into consideration that he is a violent man. I am saddened that they let him out because the court system let my family down, they let the community down because none of this would have happened. I am praying for the courts to do their job this time so this man does not hurt another soul.”

In response to FOX4’s request for information about Byers plea deal, The DA’s office set the following statement:

“Every case depends on evidence and the cooperation of witnesses. In this case, there was no gun. The first witness did not want to testify and the Aggravated Assault count involving this witness was dismissed by the judge at preliminary hearing due to lack of evidence. Lastly, the second witness stated she did not see where the shots came from, or who was shooting. This witness also did not want to testify. There was no gun and no other evidence. Despite this difficult situation, we were able to secure some prison time for the Attempted Criminal Possession of a Firearm.”

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